Everyone knows the saying: the only constant in the world is that everything changes. After rain comes sunshine, the supreme Roman empire fell apart and even the continents were once one but float steadily apart. Everything evolves. It was Darwin who, with his theory of evolution based on organisms, stated that the person who is most able to adapt to change, will survive.
While evolution is a long-term and constant given, its counterpart is revolution. A revolution is a quick irreversible change. It is an important moment in history after which the lives of many people involved start to look different. For example, the French Revolution that caused the balance of power to be overthrown. In sports there are also examples of this disruptive phenomenon. The American Dick Fosbury introduced his technique of jumping backwards to the high jump in the sixties, winning Olympic gold in Mexico City in 1968. Today the Fosbury flop is the standard.
In businesses, multiple revolutions took place – often because of a new technique. The industrial revolution has had an enormous impact on the way we live now. Daily life changed drastically with the arrival of factories and the industry disappeared from the villages. Villagers moved to the cities with the industry, and urbanization happened as a consequence. We separate three revolutions within industrial transformation:
Machines took over the work of people and this ensures increased production capacity (Industrial revolution)
Rapid technological changes are accelerating the process of the transition from human to machine work (Technological Revolution)
By the invention of new forms of communication (late 19th century), and from the 1950s the computer, provide a digitization in communication. In this third phase, it became possible to consult information almost anywhere in the world. (Digital revolution)
The third revolution made it possible for companies to globalize: coordination of production and delivery could take place from this phase very efficiently and globally, enabling large advantages in scale.
Today we live in that third revolution, the digital one. Communication systems improve by switching from analogue to digital forms. Especially since the rise of the internet. Predictions are this growth will not decrease in the foreseeable future. According to many analysts, a new era has begun with the Internet: that of the information society or service economy. The acquisition and channelling of information has become more important than pure production. The channelling and processing of information generates an increasing flow of capital in the old industrialized countries. Certainly in comparison with the ‘old’ industry, which was generated by the Industrial Revolution. This pre-digital industry is gradually presenting a shrinking segment of the total global economy.
What will be the impact if technologies are widely used in your industry? One thing is certain: it will change a lot. Will it unleash a revolution or is it part of evolution? The most important conclusion to be drawn is if your company can be the change, or if the company is played out.
The world is accessible from home. There are countless examples of local companies that did not take into account global digital developments and so we have seen several (pre-digital) icons disappear. They were simply played out because they could not respond to a changing reality and business model. In many industries, the digital revolution has ensured that business models and thus economies have changed completely. It is a true revolution in every way, which is why I am sorting it under disruption.
An example of the disruptive effect of the digital revolution on pre-digital companies is KPN, which relied heavily on its SMS services. Suddenly there was WhatsApp, with their messaging via the internet and much cheaper, so attractive to the consumer. KPN almost went under. Simply because they leaned on the income stream and did not make a plan B on time. And so we have seen several who went down to new companies that we call disruptors and turn the market upside down.
Had these companies not seen this coming? I think so. There are also examples of pre-digital industry that has benefited from digitization. Like Netflix, a DVD mail order company that has called itself a disruptor and rendered the local video store and downloading of files irrelevant. But the company also became an innovator in the series and film industry, making its own, socially relevant content.
You can die away, just like that
It is important that you constantly challenge yourself as a company, that you test whether the certainty you have now exists in a while. If your main income stream can be automated and / or digitized, now or in the future, you would still have to worry about yourself. In other words, how dependent are you on your existing business model?
What I would find a good exercise for every company is, for example: “What can augmented reality do for your industry?” You can work out these kinds of issues to be the disruptor yourself or to reorganize your organization. Redesign so that your company can immediately adapt to the new reality, the moment a competitor or new player disrupts the market with their augmented reality version of your product or service. Challenge every so-called certainty, because as said, everything changes – so your certainties too!
Be adaptable to change
Is your company the disruptor, does your company improve the disruptor, or can your company adapt to the new reality? Then you will stay and be successful. So ask yourself as a company or organization the following questions:
- How dependent are you on your existing business model?
- What do you do if your main income stream is lost?
- How quickly can your company / business model adapt to the changes in the market and the playing field?
Be smart and be the revolution
Do the answers to this questions say you can change as a company? Or even better, can you learn from the disruptor, lay low and see if you can improve the disruptor? Then you are the improved version of the new version. You can find out very well through research what can be done better, because the first version is never the best. In this way you become a true disruptor who unleashes a revolution. You become the new player with a new business model that immediately turns the rules of the game upside down, you are a game changer that changes the existing game.
Be adaptable to change
Is your company the disruptor, does your company improve the disruptor, or can your company adapt to the new reality? Then you will stay and be successful.
As Darwin said: It’s not the biggest or the strongest but the one most adaptable to change that will survive.
And repeat: For after every revolution a new reality begins that will evolve as always.
If you want to change your mind or have a session about your existing business model or want to go through a what if scenario together, feel free to contact me.